By Bear State Bank

Mountain Biking and Photography Drive Novo Studio Head

“Thanks for calling Novo Studio. This is Philip Thomas. I’m currently on the phone, on a photo shoot, on a bicycle or currently unavailable.” -voicemail, Novo Studio


Outside of his family, Philip Thomas has two overriding passions: photography and riding his mountain bike. Many days he can combine the two, cycling during the lunch hour from his downtown Rogers studio to the trails that circle nearby Lake Atalanta.

“For me, riding a mountain bike is a good counterpart to running a business and being in front of a computer and dealing with the day-to-day routine, Philip said. “Plus it’s a good networking tool. There are probably just as many mountain bikers as there are golfers, so being out on the trails puts you in contact with potential clients and current ones.”

Philip opened Novo in 2007, initially pursing wedding photography and portraiture work. Today his mainstay is commercial, shooting products and more for ad agencies as well as for corporations such as Walmart, Tyson Foods and J.B. Hunt, and doing lifestyle photography for various outdoor magazines published by Arkansas Times.

Philip is also the go-to photographer for Bear State Bank. “I really enjoy shooting for Bear State because of their welcoming, friendly manner. They’re interested in me, in what I do, and they are not in a hurry or on a timetable. They are always accommodating and I imagine that’s how they interact with their customers.”

Philip holds a BA in Fine Arts from John Brown University, and he credits a graphic arts professor with unintentionally steering him to photography. “He said I’d never make it as a graphic artist because I couldn’t draw. Seems silly as most graphic art work is done on computers, but it moved me towards photography.”

The fields are not dissimilar. The principles of composition, layout and color apply to both fields, and both require collaborating with clients to reach a common goal. “Graphic design heavily influences how I compose a photo. It’s finding that magic blend of visual texture, balance, color and patterns that come together to convey a message.”

The beauty of photography is that it’s both a pastime and a profession, and even working professionals still shoot for fun. For Philip, the fun comes from photographing minimalistic and abstract scenes; scenes he describes as looking like a painting. “I think I enjoy this type of photography because it’s work that doesn’t (involve clients who) talk back,” he said, laughing.

Most photographers are influenced by earlier masters, and for Philip that includes the works of Carl Zoch, an adventure and lifestyle photographer; Anton Corbijn, a still photographer and filmmaker of full length movies and videos for Nirvana, Metallica, U2 and more; and Annie Leibovitz, who many consider to be one of American’s best portrait photographers.

For Philip, photography is a profession and a passion and something that’s ever evolving. It’s reflected in his studio’s name, Novo, the short definition being “new,” while the longer definition takes on a deeper meaning.

Novo: To revive, refresh, change, alter and invent.

To learn about Novo Studio and Philip’s work, visit his website

Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC